Salvation By Marriage Alone – The Over Emphasis Upon Marriage by Conservative Christians Evangelicals Southern Baptists

Salvation By Marriage Alone

Internet Monk asks, from a 2010 entry (at least I think it’s from 2010, I may have the year wrong), have evangelicals and Baptists placed too much emphasis on marriage?

To which I would reply: Does the Pope wear a funny looking hat? Do bears crap in the woods? Is water wet?

(Link): Have We Said Too Much? (About Marriage, that is)

And, on that page, I.Monk links to:

(Link): Is Singleness A Sin?

Excerpts from “Have We Said Too Much? (About Marriage, that is)”

Recently, my daughter returned from a conference at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville. She had a fabulous time, but she mentioned something unusual. She said that every public prayer contained a request for God to guide the conference participants in finding a spouse. This wasn’t the theme of the conference, but the conference was primarily single young college students. Was this odd?

It didn’t surprise me. Southern has become increasingly visible in the culturally confrontational Christianity of its President, Dr. Al Mohler. (A personal hero of mine, and nothing that I write here changes that, I assure you.) And Dr. Mohler is on a crusade to get Christian young students to make marriage a priority.

In August 2004, President Mohler gave an address to a group of (primarily) Christian singles under the auspices of Josh Harris’s New Attitude conference. Mohler’s summaries of the address can be found at his web site: Part 1 and Part 2. The audio of the address is also available on the site.

The address created a bit of a firestorm, as Mohler did not just endorse marriage, but specifically criticized those who delay marriage.

[snip obnoxious quotes about singles by Mohler]

This debate is a small part of what I see as a major evolution within evangelicalism; an evolution toward overemphasizing marriage at the expense of much that is Biblical, good, healthy, balanced and normal in human and Christian experience. From the best of motives, some bad fruit is appearing.

…How can we over-emphasize marriage? Let me suggest some trends that disturb me, and make me want to suggest a larger, more critical discussion of the current “family values” emphasis before we buy everything that is being sold in all the current rhetoric.

1. Saying that delaying marriage is bad is overemphasizing marriage. This is too simplistic, and we all know it. Don’t get me wrong. Mohler sees a legitimate problem: singleness as an excuse for immaturity and rejecting legitimate adult responsibilities. There are such people. I’ve met them. Kick them in the pants.

On the other hand, there are so many other legitimate, good reasons people delay marriage, it’s almost beyond belief that they are ignored. Mohler is speaking to the culture that he sees influencing America in sitcoms like “Friends.” Let me speak about the single’s culture I see at our ministry here.

…thers are single because they have no real marriage prospects. Some are delaying marriage to care for parents or to pursue a larger career path beyond OBI… Of course, we also have divorced and widowed singles as well.

Frankly, many of the singles I know are more mature than I was when I was first married at 21. I absolutely encourage our high school students to delay marriage until they have matured in many different ways. Mohler is right to point out that marriage is a maturing experience, but it is not the only maturing experience, and it is not an automatically maturing experience. …

…Sometimes, listening to the current advocates, you would think that marriage is unfallen, or at least a refuge from the fall. While I agree it is a common grace, and even has sacramental qualities, it is thoroughly fallen and is not our salvation.

2. We overemphasize marriage when we say only “spiritually gifted” singles are truly in God’s will. Again, when Mohler talks about those called and gifted to be “single” as the only “normative” singles, he is running along a very narrow path, with plenty of ways to fall off.

The contemporary concept of spiritual giftedness has proven to be far from perfect or even helpful in many cases. I have done far more counseling with individuals who were confused about their spiritual gift than those who were finding assurance and joy from knowing their spiritual gift. How does one know he or she is called to celibacy and their delaying or passing on marriage is approved by God? In particular, given the differences in male and female sexuality and sexual development, how does a young man know that he is called to celibacy?

The concept of being “called to celibacy” occurs in the Bible in two ways: purposeful vows to be single, and pastoral advice to those who are single. Where in the New Testament do we see a “gift of celibacy” being considered by young singles in the way spiritual gifts are discussed in today’s church?

I have total respect for all those who believe God has called them to a life of celibacy, but I have to be honest. I know many who concluded God called them to singleness who later married. Our Roman Catholic friends could tell us a lot of stories about this.

3. It is an overemphasis of marriage when marriage is automatically called a “priority” for the unmarried Christian. Here is where I hope my readers will think carefully along with me.

…Does this mean that every Christian young person needs to make “finding a spouse” their major business? I say this as a youth professional and a youth minister who is watching many Christians- especially females- literally make finding a spouse the priority of their lives. Instead of boy crazy teenager girls, we have spouse-obsessed girls, who are seeing marriage as the most important, all consuming principle for living their lives. It is the focus of their prayers, the basis of their reading, the guiding principle of their involvements and a priority in all decisions. This concerns me.

… Should I be advising my daughter to put finding a husband as first on her list of priorities? Should my kids be, literally, pursuing mates in their relationships? (I use that word because I see this increasingly happening, and it’s not particularly spiritual.) Is there no value to a social activity with the opposite gender except what may lead to marriage?

In fact, shouldn’t the priority of general Christian character and growth be clearly ranked above any specific matter like marriage or missions, especially for a young person? Am I wrong to tell young people to pursue general Christian growth as the foundation of understanding God’s will in other areas? And will that general Christian growth always indicate that, yes, marriage should be the assumed priority for their life, even though Jesus wasn’t married and the New Testament shows a remarkable openness to single people in ministry?

4. We overemphasize marriage when those who are not married are out of the “center” of the Christian community, thus violating clear implications of the ministry of Jesus. I am extremely concerned that the emphasis on marriage in contemporary evangelicalism has created an imbalance within the body of Christ. I am already sensitive to this because of my own life experience.

I grew up in a fundamentalistic Baptist Church where the divorced were ostracized, baited, humiliated and blamed at every opportunity. (No, I am not exaggerating. Drinkers and divorced people were what was wrong with the world. Oh….and anyone who married a Catholic was bad, too.) This is why my dad only heard me preach, in person, five times in his life. What is outrageous about this is that 1) it was done by elevating never divorced families to the center of the church community, and 2) ignoring Jesus’ ministry to the marginalized and broken.

Jesus would have included- even preferred in some instances- the divorced, the single and the rejected in his community of followers. It is inconceivable to me that a church pastored by Jesus would put the emphasis on marriage that I saw in my childhood- or in many circles today. Today’s mega-churches specialize in that traditional family with two kids and a dog. Yes, many of them also successfully minister to singles and other groups, but am I the only one who hears such an incessant drumbeat of teaching on marriage, threats to marriage, crisis in marriage, marriage success principles and so forth that it can sometimes appear the church is preaching the “Good News of Marriage and Family” a bit louder than the Good News of Jesus?

I know single people can be whiners. Every pastor has those single members who don’t want to be single and annoyingly keep complaining that God is unfair. But are singles wrong when they say the church looks so much like a club for families that they don’t feel like they are normal, whole and blessed? Are so many family-oriented events and ministries done with serious thought to how Jesus did ministry? Did Jesus emphasize marriage as we do in most churches?

(Please click the “read more” link to read the rest of this entry)

Continue reading “Salvation By Marriage Alone – The Over Emphasis Upon Marriage by Conservative Christians Evangelicals Southern Baptists”

Video about Family Focused Churches and how not to alienate singles or the childless

Video about Family Focused Churches and how not to alienate singles or the childless

Video on You Tube, discussion about how singles are ignored by Family- and- children- obsessed churches around the 34:12, 35:14 mark (link below, video embedded in post farther down this page):

(Link): Pat Robertson vs. Orphans, Facebook Annoyances, Singles in Family Churches – Faith Today LIVE

If you watch this video you will have to sit through a long conversation about Facebook annoyances, Pat Roberton’s lousy attitudes about orphans before they begin discussing singles in the church.

Unfortunately, one of the guys in the video favorably quotes Mark Driscoll (who is sexist and perverted-see my previous posts mentioning Driscoll), but other than that, it’s an okay video – not stellar, but okay.

To the dude in the video who says singles assume that nobody will like them, especially not married couples, so they isolate and stay away from every one – wrong. Singles, when they do try to reach out in friendship to married Christian couples, often get rebuffed by the married!

Married Christian women also rebuff single Christian ladies, because they fear we single women want to sleep with their husbands. The husbands, being conceited asses, as most men usually are, assume single Christian women want to hump them, even if we don’t.

The moment a married chick with kids finds out I have never been married/had kids, often they get this look of revulsion or disgust on their face, or their face takes on a a look of utter confusion.

The majority of married women have NO CLUE how to relate to a never-married, childfree Christian woman who is over 30 years old.

Most Christian women (and some Christian men) think you are weird, abnormal, a pedophile, or messed up if you’ve never married or had a kid.

And it’s not just me, if you read testimonies by other single Christian women in blogs and books,they recount the same problem: married people who treat them like lepers or wackos the moment they find out the woman is not married and has no kids.

Such Christians will walk off the moment they find out you are single/no kids, after you have introduced yourself to them at church. I can’t compensate for that, video dude. I cannot force church people to befriend me when they think I am weird and choose to walk off and leave me after we exchange pleasantries.

BTW, I do not like children. So I have zippo interest in hanging out with other people’s kids.

Here’s the video. Video on You Tube, discussion about how singles are ignored by Family- and- children- obsessed churches around the 34:12, 35:14 mark:

————

How churches can play role in dating, marriage

How churches can play role in dating, marriage

Southern Baptists and other Christian groups can learn something from the page I’m linking to below.

Married Christians complain that Christian singles are remaining single, but they do nothing to help us singles get hitched.

We singles are not deliberately choosing to remain single – we are single because we cannot meet eligible bachelors. It’s left totally up to us to find a partner, and let me tell you, after you leave college, meeting single people in your age range becomes incredibly difficult.

Some Christian singles don’t like dating sites, have had no success with them, or can’t afford using them. So the church needs to step up to the plate and give Christian singles opportunities to meet and mingle, and Sunday School don’t cut it.

By the way, it’s incredibly stupid and counter-productive to segregate Sunday school by gender, as many Baptist churches do. To get a man and a woman married, they have to meet together in the SAME ROOM. Placing the woman in one room and the man in another will keep both single.

There are some singles who object to churches being used as meeting places for singles, but where the hell else should you expect to meet a potential mate, a bar? A night club? And again, dating sites such as “match.com” and “eHarmony” doesn’t work for some of us.

If the church wants to see more singles marry other Christians, the married ones need to start playing match-maker, introduce their single lady friends to the single guys, churches need to put on more social events for singles, etc.

This comes from a page by United Methodists.

(Link): How churches can play role in dating, marriage

Excerpts:

    Mr. Oates added that during their courtship and even now, the church has given the couple plenty of opportunities for shared activities and a shared ministry. It was “a no-brainer,” he said, that the couple would volunteer to help at the church’s vacation Bible school or serve as lay readers at worship.
    As many couples have discovered, a church potluck or Christmas pageant can make for a great date night.

    Opportunities to meet

    The United Methodist Church also offers singles a variety of ministries where they might discover their future sweethearts.

    Among those who responded to the UMNS Facebook question were people who met their spouses at United Methodist youth gatherings, campus ministries, seminaries and even annual conference sessions.

    …Emily Walter met her future husband, Jeremy, 13 years ago on the front steps of First UMC in Conway, Ark.
    They were introduced by a mutual friend who had invited Jeremy to church. Emily knew that friend through the Ozark Mission Project, a United Methodist ministry in Arkansas that connects church youth groups with short-term mission projects.

Male Preacher Marries For First Time At Age 44

Male Preacher Marries For First Time At Age 44

Please note: the following is hosted by on the site of the “Biblical Counseling Coalition”. I disagree with their views as to the causes and treatment of mental health issues.

(Link): The Bachelor Pastor: Three Reflections From my Single Life

His article is very long, so please click the link above to read the whole thing. Here are just a few excerpts:

    AUGUST 19, 2012: I have waited 44 years to write this. It is my last sermon as a single man. This coming Saturday I will marry the love of my life, Miss Jennifer Terrell.

    The unusual circumstances of my marriage give me an opportunity to say some important things. The first circumstance that makes my marriage atypical is my age. I am 44 years and 7 months old. If the national average age for a man’s first marriage is 28, this means I’ve had more time than average to think about these things.

    The second circumstance is my role in the church. I have been a pastor for 20 years and senior pastor here at Bethel for 15. My observation is that bachelor pastors are rarer than Packer fans at Soldier Field, and they are sometimes treated like them. They receive disparaging comments, questions of sexual orientation, and the like.

    These challenges are often overlooked in the church and I have one last chance to write about them as an insider, before I become one of those married pastors telling singles how they should feel.

    Many people have had the misunderstanding that my singleness was somehow related to a monkish vow of ministry or that I was so focused on Jesus that I had no interest in women or marriage. To the contrary, I have had my marriage radar on high alert since I went to college. I wasn’t desperate, and clearly wasn’t in a hurry, but I have greatly desired marriage and the blessings that go with it. In fact, I would say if I erred on any side, I have erred on marriage being too important.

    Related post this blog:

    (Link): Woman’s First Marriage at Age 40+

On the Janet Mefferd Radio Show: Still Too Much Concern About ‘Family’

On the Janet Mefferd Radio Show: Still Too Much Concern About ‘Family’

I listened to a new online Mefferd radio show. I only listened to it once. Here’s a link to that show:

(Link): Mary Eberstadt talks about her book ‘How the West Really Lost God’

After Mefferd did a radio show a few weeks ago about the marriage rate going down and out- of- wedlock births going up, where she (or a guest), if I remember right, blamed feminism or something for this situation, I sent her an e-mail via her site’s contact form to notify her that not all singles, not all female singles, are deliberately choosing to remain single (see this page).

So I find it interesting that in this more recent broadcast, Mefferd did at least mention singlehood and singles in passing. Maybe she got my message.

However, I was disappointed that the thrust of her show and the focus by the guest remained on family, child bearing, and church attendance.

The author seemed to be saying that married people who have kids are more likely to attend church than single people, or people who do not have children.

Well, this information is actually nothing new – it was either discussed in the Duin book “Quitting Church” or “Singled Out” by Field and Colon.

Both Mefferd and her author guest seem to feel this is wonderful information, and also seemed to be linking the deterioration of society and lowering of church memberships with people not having children anymore.

In other words, (and maybe I am mistaken but), they seemed to be saying something that sounded rather circular, as in,
“if only more Christians would marry, have children, and go to church, not only would society improve, but church attendance would increase.”

The solution for making church attendance go up is not by emphasizing marriage and child bearing within marriage; I’ve discussed this before, please see this post and this post.

By only showing care and concern for married people and the institution itself, and none for people who are single, and by constantly pandering to the married or marriage itself, singles feel further alienated and have no desire or interest to attend churches.

This emphasis on marriage and encouraging parenthood by Christians, or in churches by preachers in Sunday sermons, is counterproductive, because it keeps singles away from church; it makes them want to avoid it: the common wisdom was that if a single Christian woman wanted to marry, what better place for her to meet Mr. Right than at a church – but this is no longer true.

This strategy to keep focusing on marriage and making babies is pushing singles away from churches, which keeps Christian singles apart (unless they are sticking to dating sites, and dating sites do not work for all who try them).

Not only are un-married Christian men not attending churches any more (for several reasons, one of which is the unrelenting obsession with marriage by preachers turns them off), but single Christian women have stopped attending in higher numbers as well (this was documented in the Duin book).

Most Baptist, evangelical and fundamentalist churches either ignore older single adults, or, because they tend to hold marriage and parenting up as the “Holy Grail” or Only Standard Of Success for the Christian, those who do not marry and do not have kids are made to feel like failures, and they feel left out- so they stop attending churches that foster this sort of thinking and church culture.

The solution for getting marriage back on track is to start ministering to OLDER SINGLE ADULTS. Start meeting the singles where they are.

One step invovled in that is for married Christians to stop acting as impediments to singles.

Stop telling singles that wanting marriage is “idolary” or that it is “selfish.”

Stop discouraging church as a place to meet and date (“we can’t have church turn into a meat market.”) Stop segregating Sunday School classes by gender, with males in one room, females in another.

In order for marriage to happen, one single has to marry another single, which means, churches need to find ways to attract and keep singles and allow them to mix and mingle with one another.

It’s not rocket science, but idiot churches keep doing the same thing over and over, expecting success but then scratching their heads in confusion as singles never marry, or don’t get married until they’re 40.

If you want singles to get married, then help singles. And help the singles who are still single over the age of 30, do not obsess over the teens and 20-somethings. Stop helping Christian people who are already married, which is what 99% of churches do 100% of the time.

Also, stop with the lamenting over decreased baby-making. Remember, some Christians choose not to have children. Respect that choice. Some Christians want to have children but have health issues and are unable to reproduce. Be more sensitive to that possibility.

2008 Audio Interview with Julia Duin About Christian Singles

2008 Audio Interview with Julia Duin About Christian Singles

(Link): Interview About Christian Singles with Julia Duin, author of “Quitting Church”

The interview also covers the subjects of unanswered prayer, how single mothers are ignored and single women marginalized, Christian views on sex, and other topics are covered.

I recommend this interview a lot. If you are over 35 and never married, and were a Christian at any time (or still are one), you will totally relate to this discussion. I tried to embed the audio into this post two ways, but neither one worked.

Christian Teachings on Relationships: One Reason Singles Are Remaining Single (even if they want to get married)

Christian Teachings on Relationships: One Reasons Singles Are Remaining Single (even if they want to get married)

I’ve discussed this before, but it’s worth mentioning in its own post:

Many Christians say they are concerned that more and more Christians are not marrying at all, or not marrying until later in life. They don’t understand why.

One of several reasons single Christians are remaining single is due to typical teaching about dating and marriage from most conservative Christian preachers, bloggers, and authors.

Because many Christians remain terrified of other Christians possibly getting involved in fornication, most of their relationship advice, even to unmarried Christians over the age of 35, comes down to: stay away from the opposite sex.

Telling females to stay away from males and vice versa, will only result in keeping Christian singles single.

Other approaches, such as “courting” and telling Christians to “date in groups” doesn’t work, either.

I can understand the group dating approach for teens or maybe blind dates, but for adults over the age of 25?

Evangelicals and Baptists guarantee prolonged or life long singleness by making the dating process convoluted and making singles paranoid of the opposite sex, or acting as though each and every meeting between the genders can and will end in sex.

If Christians want Christians to marry, and they keep saying they do, they need to stop advising Christian singles to stay away from singles of the opposite gender.

That should be obvious, but in many areas of American Christianity, it’s not.

–Some Christian Women Shy Away From Marriage Due to “Biblical Gender Complementarian” Teachings–

On another note, I’ve seen several younger Christian ladies say on other blogs that one reason they stay single is that they are afraid to get married.

They are afraid to get married because many churches teach ‘biblical gender complementarian’ garbage.

Continue reading “Christian Teachings on Relationships: One Reason Singles Are Remaining Single (even if they want to get married)”

Have we made an idol of families? (copy)

Have we made an idol of families?, by Andy Stirrup [Book Reviews] | published June 6, 2011

Source:

growingfaith.com.au/entertainment/have-we-made-an-idol-of-families

    by Andy Stirrup
    Published: June 6, 2011

    ‘How can we idealise marriage and the nuclear family while clinging to a saviour who was unmarried and without issue?’

    In Sex and the Single Savior, Dale Martin asks an important question: have we made an idol of families? Our knee-jerk reaction is to say, ‘‘Of course not’. But Martin reminds us that sometimes we cling to theologically-phrased excuses for what we do, rather than examine what the Bible actually says. When it comes to the importance we attribute to the family (in conversation at least, even though our practice may undermine our ‘theology’), Martin asks how can we idealise marriage and the nuclear family while clinging to a saviour who was unmarried and without issue?

    The book brings together a number of Martin’s previously published articles to get to grips with a number of issues that have to do with gender and sexuality. He examines what classical and early Christian writers would have understood by the Galatians passage which referes to there being no male and female in Christ. He discusses how odd Jesus’ celibacy would have appeared to his contemporaries. But the most provocative chapter, as far as the family is concerned, is the eighth chapter, ‘Familiar Idolatry and the Christian Case against Marriage’.

    Martin begins the chapter with a bold announcement that mainstream Western Christianity (Catholic and Protestant, liberal and conservative) has made an idol of marriage and the family. It is a strong claim but we would have to agree with him that those who do not fit the nuclear family ‘ideal’ usually find themselves on the fringes of church life. Martin supports his claim by turning both to the New Testament and to the writings of the early Church. He suggests that the early Church was culturally much closer to the New Testament period and so they are better placed to understand the intention of the Biblical texts than modern theologians.

    Continue reading “Have we made an idol of families? (copy)”

What Christians Can Learn from The Walking Dead Re: Family, Singleness, and Marriage

When secular sources get it right – The Walking Dead

(I can see disgruntled “Caryl” fans wanting to leave me argumentative comments about this post. If so, please see the “Policy on Dissent on this blog” before being tempted to leave me a nasty gram. Thank you.)

On the cable channel AMC’s hit show about the zombie apocalypse, The Walking Dead, the topic of ‘what is family’ is explored every so often, as it was most recently in last night’s episode, “The Suicide King.” The show centers on sheriff Rick Grimes, who leads a group of survivors, some related by flesh and blood (or marriage), but most not.

The character Rick Grimes has a wife named Lori and son named Carl, and a newborn daughter named Judith (the wife, Lori, got killed a few episode ago).

Other characters under Rick’s charge include (but are not limited to) Hershel Greene, who has two daughters, Maggie and Beth. All the other members of Rick’s group are unrelated through birth or marriage (some previous members were killed in older episodes). They have banded together to survive.

One of Rick’s group includes the redneck survivalist character, Daryl Dixon. Daryl has become the show’s most popular character.

Daryl and his older, racist, sexist, violent brother Merle get separated early on in the show. Daryl grew up in his abusive older brother’s shadow. When Daryl was not being ignored as a child, he was being physically and verbally abused by his brother and possibly by his father, when they bothered to pay any attention to him.

In the episode ‘The Suicide King’ (first aired February 10, 2013), Merle re-enters Daryl’s life. Daryl decides to leave Rick’s group to go off alone with his brother again, because Rick refuses to allow Merle to join the group.

Rick tries to talk Daryl into staying (without his brother Merle), but Daryl is still stuck in the idea that flesh and blood ties is what constitutes “family,” or that flesh- and- blood ties should take priority to other sorts of bonds.

The character Glenn, who doesn’t want Daryl to leave the group, tells Daryl that Merle may be “your blood, but not mine.” Glenn explains that the group of survivors, headed by Rick, is his family now, even though Glenn is not related to any of these people through blood ties – and Rick tells Daryl, “you are part of this family.” Daryl still decides to leave with his brother Merle, however.

You can view a video clip of a few moments of that scene, and the actors from the show discussing the concept of “family” in this video clip:

(Link:) (SPOILERS) Inside Episode 309 The Walking Dead: The Suicide King (Video on You Tube)

Rick’s group of survivors have been more of a family to and for Daryl than Daryl’s own flesh and blood relations – despite a few arguments with one or two other group members (such as the late Shane Walsh), the group has treated Daryl with kindness and respect, and they have come to rely on him for protection and defense.

In one of the last few episodes, when Rick falls apart after his wife Lori dies from childbirth, Daryl willingly risks his life to go out in search of baby formula for the newborn.

In yet earlier episodes, Daryl took it upon himself, and puts himself in danger, to go searching alone in a zombie-infested forest for the twelve- year- old daughter of Carol, Sophia, who went missing at one point.

Daryl, despite his racist family of origins, freely and glady, with no prompting from any one, gives up some of his big brother’s antibiotic and painkiller medication to a black group member, “T-Dog,” who was gravely injured.

Remember, none of these people – Carol, the new born child, T-Dog, Rick, Sophia – are Daryl’s flesh and blood family, but he still acts on their behalf anyway.

In another episode, Rick, Glenn, Oscar and Maggie – all of no relation to Daryl – go to the town of Woodbury to rescue Daryl from one of the show’s bad guys, the Governor.

Throughout the series, Daryl has shown himself not to be a racist, sexist jerk like his older brother Merle. He has a difficult time emotionally connecting with other people, but he is, at his core, a decent guy who tries to help other people.

~~~~~~ ASIDE ~~~~~~~~

Before I return to the main theme of this post (which is, ‘who is family’), I wanted to address another issue about this show:

It may resonate with this blog’s particular audience to know that the actor who plays Daryl has said in interviews that in his mind, the character Daryl, who is also in his 40s, is a virgin. The show’s writers have, so far, never given Daryl a love interest or a sex scene – and remember, Daryl is hugely, hugely popular with the show’s viewers.

(Please click on the “read more” link below to read the rest of this post. Thank you.)
Continue reading “What Christians Can Learn from The Walking Dead Re: Family, Singleness, and Marriage”

Want To But Can’t – The One Christian Demographic Being Continually Ignored by Christians Re: Marriage

Want To But Can’t – The One Christian Demographic Being Continually Ignored by Christians | Re: Marriage Not Happening for Hetero-sexual Christians Over the Age of 30

While conservative Christians keep on despairing that today’s American culture no longer resembles 1950s “Leave It To Beaver” families, the majority of them keep right on ignoring one significant group: unmarried Christians over the age of 30 who want to get married but who cannot find a Christian partner.

About the only Christians who have taken note of this plight are those who are in the group themselves, such as myself.

There are many Christians over the age of 30 who want to get married, but they cannot find a suitable partner at church, through friends, or on dating sites. And their petitions to God on this matter are not working. God remains silent and does not move.

Meanwhile, we unmarried Christians [* please see March 2016 update at the bottom of this post], who want marriage but for whom it remains out of reach…

Stand by and see the never-ending avalanche of blog pages, magazine articles, and booklets printed, or radio shows broadcast, by mainstream evangelical groups bemoaning the fact that 20-somethings are putting off marriage until their late 20s…

Or that they are dropping out of church altogether, with a smaller amount of attention paid to topics such as divorce and how to keep a marriage together.

But there is nothing from the Christian community, no attention, prayers, concern, or material, for those who cannot even get to the altar to begin with (with the exception of a small amount of Christian material which insults us and puts us down).

I was reminded of all this again when skimming over parts of a book online. The book is “Church in an Age of Crisis,” by James Emery White.

In a chapter about marriage (I don’t see any chapters on prolonged singleness among Christians – which is typical), he writes in a sidebar:

— Begin Quote from Book —
The Crumbling State of Marriage

-[1] For the first time since the US began tallying marriages, more Americans of prime marrying age have stayed single rather than tied the knot

-[2] Proportion of married adults of all ages was 52 percent in 2009, down from 72.2 percent in 1960 – the lowest percentage since the US began tracking in 1880

-[3] Cohabitation in the US has nearly doubled since 1990
— End Quote from Book —

As for point 1, (“more Americans of prime marrying age have stayed single rather than tied the knot”), how many of those singles want to stay single? How many of them have intentionally chosen to stay single into their 30s and older? Why is this distinction almost never made?

How many of those singles are like me, who always desired and expected to marry, but it just never happened?

Why do these worried and pearl-clutching conservative Christians always seem to assume that those of us Christians who have remained single past the age of 30 or 40 have deliberately chosen to remain so?

Continue reading “Want To But Can’t – The One Christian Demographic Being Continually Ignored by Christians Re: Marriage”

‘Contemporary Christian Virtue’ -Another Blog That Discusses Older Unmarried Christians

Another blog that talks about singleness and older Christians:

Contemporary Christian Virtue, by Shannon Mulvari

One of my favorite posts was this one – which unfortunately only shows up in google cache (she discusses how singles are stereotyped in the church, among other topics, such as how Christian culture exploits celebrity Christian virgins, how celibacy is usually ignored, etc):

Christian Single Adults Not Welcome in American Churches, by Shannon Mulvari (was first posted December 12, 2012)

I don’t know why its author edited or deleted that blog page – it’s an excellent page, and I wish she would re post it.

Here are just a few excerpts:
———————————
Don’t have a wedding band? Don’t have a marriage license? Don’t have children in tow? Played by all the rules and never found that special someone? Looking for encouragement and affirmation? I would not recommend churches today – unless you want to be treated like a leper. They do not welcome single adults, especially those who are older and never married. I’m not sure of all the reasons for this phenomenon. But I can tell you it’s a fact. And it works in both directions. Singles don’t feel needed or included in church activities. And churches don’t include them in leadership roles or welcome them in their congregations or social circles.

… This brings me to [another] reason singles have been excluded — Marriage and the nuclear family have been elevated to the point of representing the highest form of Christian standards. Church members with the gift of singleness who are concerned about the Lord’s affairs as Apostle Paul explains in 1 Cor 7 have been placed in fantasy land. They are theorized as an anomaly so rare, it doesn’t warrant a second thought. They can’t see beyond “the whole world is going to hell.” Instead, churches are hunkering down in fear of the gay lifestyle and circling their wagons tight around their nuclear families – at the expense of every other Christian virtue. I don’t support same sex marriage or the gay lifestyle either. But I don’t let that control my every thought and behavior.

… The fact is, we are no longer living in Mayberry [fictional American town, in a 1960s American television show, where most everyone had Judeo-Christian values] where innocence was taken for granted. There are no rewards for the virtuous Christian single today.
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[Read the rest of her post]

Ageism in the Church – The Insufferable, Obnoxious Fixation on the Under-25s Demographic

One of the themes of this blog is exploring how and why so many American churches and denominations and the Christian community in general either ignore never-married Christians over the age of 30, or treat them like garbage.

On a similar note, I’ve noticed that a lot of American Christians are guilty of ignoring or not caring about the needs or spiritual growth of anyone over 25 years of age.

My mother used to take me to church weekly when I was a child. We moved often, so the older I got, we did not attend churches as often.

I definitely remember feeling welcomed at church at ages 3 to 10. I did not feel like an outsider at a young age. There were Bible stories for us read out of kiddie Bibles, and punch and cookies.

I went to different churches here and there, off and on, in my 20s, but not often enough to pick up a feel of how Christians treated 20 somethings.

I began going to church regularly again when I was in my mid 30s. It was then, walking in to a church alone at 35 or 36, that I felt out of place and peculiar. It was then I began to notice how I was one of the few people sitting alone in the pews. Everyone else was part of a couple.

I further began noticing how most of the sermons or activities were for married couples or pertained to parenting.

I had wondered if I was alone in noticing or feeling these things until a few years ago, I began reading the occasional book about singlehood in Christianity.

The authors of these books confirmed it was not in my imagination, and that a lot of other unmarried Christians past the age of 30 noticed the same things I was.

One of the books I read, Quitting Church, by author Julia Duin, mentioned how churches are alienating not just unmarried people in general, but anyone over the age of 25, and I agree. (Please click the “more” link to read the rest of the post)
Continue reading “Ageism in the Church – The Insufferable, Obnoxious Fixation on the Under-25s Demographic”

American Churches Need to Address Growing Numbers of Unmarried / Single People

Pew for One: How Is the Church Responding to Growing Number of Singles?

Source:
(WWW.)christianpost.com/news/pew-for-one-how-is-the-church-responding-to-growing-number-of-singles-70586/

Before I paste in excerpts from most of the article, I wanted to comment on this part of it first:

“Some churches are certainly aware of this demographic, but other churches are almost impervious to it,” says Danylak. “The church focuses on marriage and family, with the expectation that by focusing on family, you’re encouraging singles to get married.”

I addressed that very point in a previous post (-HERE-). Focusing on marriage constantly does NOT encourage singles to want marriage more.

The problem is most unmarried American Christian adults already want to be married, but they cannot find suitable people to date! And while they remain unmarried, they are having struggles and issues that married people do not always face, such as a more intense struggle with loneliness, along with other issues.

For a pastor to keep harping on marriage week in and week out, as most do in their services or literature and blogs, only alienates unmarried adults further, and it’s also painful for some, for it’s like eating a bag of potato chips and chocolate cake in front of a friend who you know likes junk food but who is on a diet.

It’s very cruel to constantly throw something in someone’s face that they want but cannot have, obtain, or achieve – yet most Southern Baptists, conservative churches, and evangelicals continue to do this very thing in regards to marriage vs. singlehood to the long term unmarried and celibate.

Here’s more from the article:

Pew for One: How Is the Church Responding to Growing Number of Singles?

By Sarah Hamaker , Christian Post Contributor
February 29, 2012

One can be the loneliest number, especially in the church. Today, there are more singles in the United States than at any other time in history – 43.6 percent of the U.S. adult population are unmarried, according to the 2010 U.S. Census.

“The number of single adults in the United States has been rapidly approaching the number of married adults, and this is an unprecedented culture shift that is dramatic,” says Barry Danylak, author of Redeeming Singleness. “This is not an American phenomena – it is seen in nearly all of the modernized and industrialized nations.”

The church, long welcoming to married with children congregants, has been slower to adjust to this demographic shift. “At least 80 percent of every denomination do not have a targeted ministry to single adults,” says Dennis Franck, national director for Single Adult/Young Adult Ministries for the Assemblies of God denomination, headquartered in Springfield, Mo. “However, the majority of churches are not trying to exclude singles, but they are more marriage and family focused, which means singles are not acknowledged very often.

The Rev. Alan Fretto, a single senior in Danbury, Conn., points out, “The church is geared toward children, women and couples. There is very little in most churches for singles, and yet singles dominate the church population. Singles need to be encouraged and included in the process of the church, and should be considered a valuable asset to the church.”

Readjusting Focus

Many churches have yet to formally acknowledge singles in their midst, either with targeted ministries or inclusion in preaching or teaching illustrations and examples. “Some churches are certainly aware of this demographic, but other churches are almost impervious to it,” says Danylak. “The church focuses on marriage and family, with the expectation that by focusing on family, you’re encouraging singles to get married.”
Continue reading “American Churches Need to Address Growing Numbers of Unmarried / Single People”

Same Old Tired Advice to Christian Singles

Related: 

Alpha Females (book by Suzanne Venker) Part 1 – Nothing New Under the Sun. Conservative Women Keep Issuing Same Sexist, Unhelpful Dating And Marital Advice to Women


I left a comment on a blog page (What’s a [Christian] Single Girl To Do?) about singles, whose author was trying to give advice to Christian singles. I don’t know if my comment will be published there or not so here is a copy. (click on the “more” link to read the rest of the post)

This is a copy of my reply on a blog page, “What’s a Single Girl to Do”

I’m a never-married Christian female, over 40, and while this editorial started out well enough, it’s filled with the usual unhelpful, vaguely insulting, or hurtful tripe we singles get subjected to on a regular basis by Christians who, I assume, sincerely feel they are being helpful. However, basically in this editorial, we are being given the old, worn out adage, “don’t look for ‘The One,’ be ‘The One’.”

We are also essentially being treated to the same adage one often sees in these articles about Christian singles who are desiring marriage, ones about ‘putting Jesus first,’ and other performance- based and religious- sounding attitudes.

Sorry, but being a good Christian girl over the years, living a pure life, praying and trusting God for a spouse, trying to “be the one and not look for the one,” and seeking God first in life and serving Him, etc etc and all the usual advice and admonishments one hears from preachers and Christian bloggers, did not garner me a spouse.

Further, that assumption in and of itself is not entirely biblical or compassionate – for the most part in the Bible, God does not place parameters on His grace, that if only you shape yourself up, work hard enough (or pray hard enough) or meet some other criteria, then and only then will He bestow a gift to you (such as marriage).

The author seems to be hinting that if we are not “submitted enough” to Jesus or to the Father now, the Father will not grant us or bless us with a spouse. I’m sorry, but no, that is not so. The Bible does not teach that.
Continue reading “Same Old Tired Advice to Christian Singles”

Celebrities who waited until marriage to have sex

I think it’s a sad, sad commentary on American society these days when people who are virgins until they marry, or who remain celibate after a divorce are considered special, unique, or newsworthy. If anything, waiting until marriage, even if you’re a virgin at 30 or 40, because you have not married yet, should be viewed as the norm, not the exception.

However, I think maybe an article like this might encourage some older Christian singles, since goodness knows they aren’t getting encouragement for remaining celibate from the church in America.

I have no plans of copying the entire list, so if you want to see it, you will have to visit their site.

Celebrities Who Abstained: They Waited Or Are Waiting Until Marriage To Give Up Their V-Cards
Source:
styleblazer.com/75357/celebrities-that-waited-for-marriage-or-are-waiting-until-
marriage-to-give-up-their-v-cards/

These stars might be sex symbols, posing in sensual photo shoots, shooting steamy scenes and writing lyrics that could sing the pants off anyone, but don’t be mistaken: these celebs are pretty conservative when it comes to what happens between the sheets. Here are 19 celebrities who waited til marriage or are waiting until marriage to give up his or her v-cards.

Lolo Jones

The American Hurdler that fell short of medals at the 2012 Olympics is still holding on tight to her V-Card. “It’s just something, a gift I want to give my husband” says 30-year old Jones, saying that abstaining from sex has been “Harder than training for the Olympics.” The American Hurdler that fell short of medals at the 2012 Olympics is still holding on tight to her V-Card. “It’s just something, a gift I want to give my husband” says 30-year old Jones, saying that abstaining from sex has been “Harder than training for the Olympics.”

Kathie Lee Gifford

The Today show host kept her sacred treasure all to herself until she was 22, when she gave it up to her first husband Paul Johnson, something she reveals in her autobiography. “My lifelong self-consciousness about my body seemed, miraculously, to fade away…” Gifford says of the experience.

Lisa Kudrow

The Friends star is nothing like the free-loving hippie she played on the show. Lisa remained a virgin until she was 31, a decision she explained while promoting her 1999 film The Opposite of Sex. “My virginity was something I’d decided was very precious…an honor I was bestowing on a young man.” That young man turned out to be her husband, Michael Stern.

Kevin Jonas

At the age of 22, the oldest Jonas Brother wore a “purity ring” until 2007, when he married Danielle Deleasa (the co-star on the new reality show Married to Jonas.)
Continue reading “Celebrities who waited until marriage to have sex”